This time last week voters across the UK went to the polls for the local elections. In Cornwall we had the second election for Police and Crime Commissioner. This is still a relatively new role and many people remain sceptical about it. However, it should be remembered that this is not a new tier of administration within the police as some presume.
It is simply a directly elected role to replace the old, unaccountable Police Authorities that existed before. So whatever people might think about the performance of Tony Hogg over the past three years, it is difficult to argue that having a more visible, elected role is not a step forward from the days of Police Authorities.
The election was much closer this time and the turnout much higher. The Labour Party also put more effort into the election than they did previously. That’s good because important democratically elected roles like this only work when the political parties contest them vigorously. Political parties are not always popular because, in power, they have to take difficult choices. However, without political parties, and the thousands of volunteers who give up their time to deliver leaflets, democracy simply does not work.
I was very pleased to see Alison Hernandez elected our new PCC. She had actually gone for the role three years ago and was only very narrowly beaten by Tony Hogg. What impresses me about her is that, in the intervening years, she has really developed a real understanding of what is required in the role. She has worked out the bits that Tony Hogg got right and what she would like to retain. This is crucial because any new PCC should build on their predecessor, retaining what is right and changing what is wrong. In particular she has some really good ideas on developing the "tri-service" model like what is currently used in Hayle. There are certainly challenges ahead, but I think Alison has what it takes to earn the respect of the police and to champion the great work they do.